Roasted Lemon Zest Powder Recipe

Kitchen recycling is my favorite hobby.

So many food scraps can be put to good use with just a little time and flair*, and the satisfaction is immense when I feel I’m using my supplies to the max — making chilled soup from pea pods, pesto from radish tops and croissants aux amandes from day-old croissants, using the whey from mozzarella in bread dough, parsley stems in stews, and the rinds from hard cheeses in soups.

Today’s trick is one I’ve devised because it bothered me to toss the rinds of lemons when all I needed that day was their juice.

I got the idea from a jar of dried, roasted and ground lemon peel I bought years ago, made by a Sicilian company and simply sold under the name buccia di limone (lemon peel).

That Sicilian lemon powder was so lovely it took me years to go through the little container, until I finally got my act together and realized I could just make my own.

The scent and flavor were so lovely it took me years to go through that little container — it was not cheap, and I seem to have trouble using up ingredients I perceive as rare and precious — until I finally got my act together and realized I could just make my own.

The process is simple: before I juice the lemons, I peel off ribbons of the zest with a vegetable peeler. I leave those out to dry completely for a day or two, then roast them gently in the oven before grinding them with a mortar and pestle, a step that’s rewarded by a fantastic tarte au citron smell.

Because I usually make a small batch and the whole idea is to be thrifty, I place the ribbons of lemon zest in my oven while I preheat it for something else: this means they’re exposed to a moderate heat, but it also means they need to be kept on a close watch until they reach the proper shade of golden brown.

What you get is a fragrant powder that doesn’t pack the punch of fresh zest, but makes up for it with a toasted dimension that pulls it toward the sweet. It can be used to flavor scones and butter cookies, mixed into a fruit crisp topping or granola, infused in cream or milk for crème brûlée or gelato, sprinkled over a fruit salad (think nectarines and raspberries), blended with sugar to make lemon sugar or with tea to make lemon tea, combined with other flavorings in a rub for meat or fish… the possibilities are endless.

In fact, roasted lemon zest powder can be used in pretty much any recipe that call for fresh — I’m trying to find an exception but I can’t think of one — and I suggest substituting it measure for measure then.

And once you’ve peeled the zest for this, and juiced the lemons for whatever reason you had to buy them in the first place, the rest of the rind can be placed in your water pitcher for a day or two, where it will release a faint and refreshing citrusy flavor.

Naturally, this method could be applied to any other citrus fruit.

* For more on that topic, check out C&Z readers’ tips for a green kitchen, including suggestions on how to reduce food waste.

Strips of Lemon Zest

Roasted Lemon Zest Powder Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Roasted Lemon Zest Powder Recipe

Ingredients

  • Organic lemon(s)

Instructions

  1. Using a sharp vegetable peeler (I like this one), peel off the peel off the lemons in thin ribbons, making sure to get only the top colored layer of peel, and none of the bitter white pith. (The naked lemons can now be juiced as you normally would.)
  2. Arrange the ribbons of peel, pith side up, on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish in a single layer. Reserve somewhere dry and at room temperature for about 2 days, until the peels are completely dry; they will gradually curl up as they do.
  3. On an occasion when you're using your oven for another purpose, place the peels in the oven during the first 5 to 10 minutes of preheating so they will roast in the moderate heat. Keep a close eye on them so you can retrieve them when the edges are turning golden brown.
  4. Let cool completely, then grind finely with a mortar and pestle (or in a mini food chopper).

Notes

The roasted lemon peel powder will keep for a few months in a spice jar, preferably in the fridge.

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  • http://www.thisiswhatimeating.com/ Ross

    Wow, I’ve never even heard of roasted lemon zest powder, but it sounds great! I love any opportunity to make something out of what would normally be trash. I usually use my mozzarella whey for ricotta, but I’ll have to try it in bread too! I never even thought of that!

    • kojak

      Ross, I would like to make Mozzarella and then Ricotta with the whey as you do. I have read several sites that mention Mozzarella, but the process seems very difficult. Do you find it so?

      Would you care to share your technique?

      • http://www.thisiswhatimeating.com/ Ross

        I’m still a novice to cheesemaking, but I did find mozzarella to be pretty easy. The recipe that I use came inside my box of rennet tablets – I have a copy at home, I’ll try to remember to post it this evening.

        As for the ricotta, that’s the easiest thing in the world! Ricotta actually means “recooked” in Italian – and really, that’s all you do to make it.

        Let your whey sit out overnight to develop acidity (I read somewhere that you can skip this step, but I don’t like taking chances with my cheese ;), then dump it in a pot and bring it up to about 190 degrees or so – just a bit shy of boiling.

        Cool it down until it’s at a comfortable temperature (ie: it doesn’t burn you), and then pour it through a cloth – I use a regular cheesecloth folded over about 4 – 6 times (It’s too lose otherwise, and you’ll lose the curds), but a tighter, clean cloth would probably be a better idea. Just hang it up until it stops dripping so much (it usually takes a couple hours for me)

        After it’s stopped draining, that’s it! Piece of cake. It doesn’t even need to be mozzarella whey that you use. The best ricotta that I’ve had was actually using the whey from a goats milk feta that I made. I wound up using it in a calzone and it turned out amazing. Best calzone I’ve had in my life, and I’ve eaten a lot of calzones.

        http://www.thisiswhatimeating.com/2010/05/12/calzone-and-another-pizza/

        I’ll post back the mozzarella recipe once I get home and have a chance to grab it out of the rennet box. It’s pretty easy – not quite as easy as the ricotta, or a paneer, but not a whole lot harder either.

        • http://www.thisiswhatimeating.com/ Ross

          Aha! Found it! I use raw milk, but if you don’t have access to that, whole milk should work in a pinch.

          MOZZERELLA
          1/2 tablet “JUNKET” Rennet Tablet
          1-1/4 teaspoon citric acid
          1 gallon milk

          Instructions:
          1. Warm milk over gentle heat 88ºF (31ºC), take care not to scorch.

          2. Dissolve 1-1/4 tsp. citric acid powder in 1/2 cup cool water. Add to 88ºF milk, stir well.

          3. Dissolve 1/2 tablet Junket Rennet into 1/4 cup cool water. Stir thoroughly into warmed milk mixture. Let set undisturbed for 1-2 hours, until a clean break is achieved.

          4. Cut curd into 1/2 inch cubes.

          5. Warm the curds and whey over low heat, stirring gently to warm evenly and keep the curds separated until temperature reaches 42º C (108ºF). Hold at 42ºC for 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes to keep curds separated and off the bottom.

          6. Collect curds by pouring curds and whey through a fine cloth held in an 8 inch sieve over a 1 gallon container, let drain for 15 minutes. Save whey to make ricotta if you wish (see recipe)

          7. Break up curd, mix in 1 teaspoon salt thoroughly.

          8. Place 1 cup of salted curd into 2 cup measure.

          9. Microwave on high for 45 seconds

          10. Separate hot curd from container with the back of a fork, knead with hands to distribute heat evenly. Heat again for 20 more seconds. Stretch and fold to make smooth and elastic, shape into a soft ball.

          11. Drop into cold, salted water (1/3 cup salt per quart), let sit in refrigerator for a day, store in an air tight container. Use within a week or so.

          It seems intimidating, but really, it’s pretty easy. The one time I “messed up” (was too impatient with step 10) it still turned out great. The hard part is just the waiting :)

          • http://lacaffettierarosa.wordpress.com Caffettiera

            Ross, I have been looking for a recipe for mozzarella for the whole time while I was living in the UK – store bought mozzarella was just way too awful for a pizza, or for anything else. I regularly make ricotta, whenever I have some soured milk. I gave up with cheese experiments though when I made some goat’s cheese that tasted, well, really bitter. But with your recipe I might give it another try. Thanks!

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

            Thanks for sharing those recipes, Ross! I never knew ricotta was made with the whey from mozzarella — I’ve only ever made it with whole milk — but I’ll give this a try for sure.

        • kojak

          Ross, it has been 3 years and 2 months since you posted your instructions. I guess it is about time that I thanked you.

          Honestly, this was the first time I’ve seen your response.

          Thank you for your diligence in posting the instructions.

          You are the best!

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

            It’s never too late to say thank you! :) I hope Ross has a chance to come back and see your message.

  • http://welldonechef.com Jason Sandeman

    Awesome idea! I am so stealing this, but giving you perfect credit for it. The people in my kitchen are going to think that I am nuts… but there it is.

    I am going to experiment on orange, grapefruit and lime powders as well. What an awesome idea!

  • http://smultronsoul.blogspot.com/ Divya Jagasia

    You can also use the lemon powder in pavlova, it would give it a nice tart flavor that will balance the sweetness.

    I recently bought dried limes from the Middle Eastern store – it has a rather musky taste and is appropriate for some stews but I’m not sure what else I should use it in.

    I like that you recycle in the kitchen!

    • http://www.gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

      Oooh lemon pavlova with roasted lemon sounds like an amazing idea!!

  • http://nom-nomnom.blogspot.com Reuben

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://operagirlcooks.com Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

    Wow, you’ve got the wheels turning in my head! Roasted orange zest and current scones, anyone? Roasted lemon zest and rosemary shortbread? Wowie. Great idea!

  • http://lacaffettierarosa.wordpress.com Caffettiera

    I am sure the roasting adds yet another interesting dimension to one of my favourite ingredients, though I love lemon zest so much that a lemon with intact zest almost never makes it to the bin. Actually, it is not even the bin: since when I have a washing machine, I am using an old trick of my mother’s, and adding the used lemon halves to the dishes. It gives them a nice smell.

  • http://www.boogaj.com julie

    I love this idea and can’t wait to try it out!

  • http://www.zomppa.com Belinda @zomppa

    Lemon zest! LOVE this!!

  • http://www.cassandrapw.blogspot.com Cassandra PW

    Yes indeed this technique can be used with any citrus fruit. Stored in a jar with your other herbs, you will soon find yourself frequently adding a pinch to savory as well as sweet recipes! Homemade lemon pepper on shrimp … dried orange with lemon balm herb tea… lemon sugar cookies… just to name some of our favorites!

  • http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    I love lemon zest – it’s so useful! I can think of a million uses for this and will be making some very soon!!

  • http://tiffintales.wordpress.com/ Heena

    That’s a FABULOUS idea. Why hasn’t anyone thought of it before? Big pat on the back :)
    What do you think of storing this with used up, dried vanilla beans? Do you think that will add another dimension?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      In general I prefer to keep my spices separate, but I think it would be great to combine this lemon powder with some sugar and store a used vanilla bean in the jar to make lemon vanilla powder — it would make a lovely food gift.

  • http://www.lemontart.ca Tami

    I love this idea. I wrote about dried orange peel last year, which is fantastic in all kinds of savoury applications, but especially mixed with salt for a rub. Its great waste not want no don’t you think?

  • http://theperfectpastry.blogspot.com margie

    I’ve seen this for sale at spice shops, but somehow I always thought it would have a stale smell; I figured, like dried parsley, that it wouldn’t really be worth using for me.

    Your description sounds fantastic. I’ve always felt bad about discarding unused citrus zest, but that usually just means that I plan something else to make whenever I need the juice. Your method sounds a little less intense!

  • http://www.positivelybeauty.com/ Cristina

    That’s such a great idea, thanks for sharing! I’ll certainly try lemon, orange, and lime roasted zest.

  • http://trattoriascorpacciata.blogspot.com/ seth

    if you use a microplane the resultant zest is so fine it dries out at room temperature. i’ve made candied citrus peels a couple of times, but prefer to zest them. i think they compost better with the zest off, too, as it’s the oils/flavors in the zest that make citrus harder to compost — my theory anyway.

  • Marc Sheldon

    How did you get the peel so thin ? My veggie peeler does not even come close … And your link to Amazon does not seem to work, sadly.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Amazon had a temporary problem yesterday; the link works now. I’m really happy with this peeler: it’s very sharp and gives you really thin peels. I’m actually on my second one because I inadvertently threw the first one into the bin once — a classic mishap, I think.

      • Caroline

        I finally found my missing vegetable brush – in the compost heap!

  • Sixtyfive

    Will try this. I just grate with microplane and store the zest in a little jar on the freezer. Somehow this seems easier though I’m missing outvon the toasted effect.

  • lisa

    You’re truly a culinary genius Clothilde. Thanks for sharing your tips!!

  • http://tastycolours.blogspot.com/ Magdalena

    I printed your recipe. I use a lot of lemon zest in my cooking and I will use your recipe for sure and I will come back to you :)

  • http://www.georgiapellegrini.com Georgia Pellegrini

    There’s nothing as satisfying as using every part of a fruit, vegetable, animal…you name it. I often make candied lemon peel after I collect enough rinds, but sometimes that requires a little more effort than I want to put in. This looks like a lovely alternative.

  • http://www.foodfix.me Rachel Willen, Kitchenista

    Thanks – I am all for using, not tossing, food resources. That’s just one of the many ways to be creative in the kitchen.

  • http://www.NoWheatNoDairyNoProblem.com Lauren Hoover

    I just processed sea salt/fleur d sel with dried lemon zest and put it into a clean coffee grinder and ground until fine. It is delicious sprinkled on fish, veggies, meat and even a tiny pinch in my smoothie! See recipes in my cookbook on my blog. I use lemon zest to brighten up many recipes including granola, fruit crisp and more! Yum!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Combining it with salt is a great idea! I’ll try that.

  • http://www.NoWheatNoDairyNoProblem.com Lauren Hoover

    I don’t know what I’d do without my microplane grater for making citrus zest!It’s great for fresh nutmeg and garlic too. I gave one to all my friends for Christmas last year along with my cookbook of course! For recipes go to my blog http://www.NoWheatNoDairyNoProblem.com

  • http://coloredgrains.wordpress.com Kausambi (ColoredGrains)

    Lovely idea!

  • ATL Cook

    I freeze lime and lemon peel and the juice too. Bought limes 12/$1 this week and looked for dark green ones.

    Great for all kind of cooking; put some zest in an angel food cake along with fresh thyme leaves. Awesome–idea from Relish blog.

    Very hot in Atlanta @ 95ºF so it would not take long to dry outside.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m sure you could even roast the peels in the blazing midday sun! :)

  • http://awoodennest.blogspot.com Lindsay Jewell

    I love this idea, and I definitely wouldn’t have thought of it myself. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gunnar in Malmo

    Many thanx for the roasted lemon zest powder and for the whole compilation of tips for a green kitchen

  • http://www.inolongerlikechocolates.com Kathie

    Clotilde (and Sixtyfive):

    Years ago, when my aunt in California was still alive, she’d give me a whole grocery bag full of Meyer lemons from her backyard tree to put in my luggage to bring home back East. I’d already learned from my dad (her youngest brother), whom she’d kept supplied with fresh lemons for decades, to juice the surplus fruit, freeze the juice in non-corrosive ice-cube trays, then store the cubes in a plastic freezer bag or carton for future use — so I’d do that with my gift lemons soon after I got back from California.

    Then it occurred to me that I could go my dad one further: I ground the leftover lemon-peel zest in my food processor (after chopping finely first by hand with a small sharp knife), and freeze the results in small zip-type freezer bags. Then, when I much later needed some for a recipe, I gently whacked the bag against the kitchen counter to loosen up enough zest to measure out. I found that the flavor stayed almost as bright as the fresh stuff.

    My father and aunt are long since dead, but I still grind and freeze small amounts of leftover store-bought lemon and orange zest (separately, of course!) for later cooking.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Ah, I so wish I could get my hands on some Meyer lemons! Thanks for sharing your own lemon-saving strategy.

  • http://www.foodexpressed.com Val

    What a great idea!

  • Maggie

    Thank you for posting this! It exemplifies the reason I read this blog: You are an absolute inspiration in the kitchen…and I really admire that in your writing.

  • http://www.thecreativepot.net Marisa

    Thrifty *and* citrusy? I approve.

  • http://foodnouveau.com Marie (FoodNouveau)

    What a great idea! I’m planning on making lemon macarons. Why not spinkle a bit of roasted lemon zest powder on top of the cookies? The flavor is usually mostly in the cream, this time I bet the cookies will steal the show :)

  • Joycie

    It’s great to be able to “recycle” left overs in the kitchen like lemon peel, sometimes there is nothing else you can do but throw things away.
    That is why I have a bokashi bucket. It acts like a mini compost bin but with no bad smell. It’s designed to fit under the kitchen sink and you can use it to dispose of all you kitchen food waste.

  • http://veganexplosion.com crystal

    i can just smell the lemon in your kitchen!

  • Caroline

    If you are in a hurry, juiced lemon halves also keep well in the freezer for a while and the zest can be grated off from frozen. Don’t let them thaw – they go soggy and you can’t get the zest off.

  • http://www.thewednesdaychef.com Luisa

    Such a fabulous idea, I can’t wait to try it! I was given a whole bunch of organic lemons from a friend’s garden in Greece and I’ve been trying to stretch them out in every way. :)

  • http://www.niallniallorangepeel.blogspot.com/ Niall

    I’ve found that if you put the squeezed lemons in a ziplock bag in the freezer, they work quite satisfactorily for making preserved lemons (i.e. defrost them when you have enough and put in jars with salt, spices, and some fresh lemon juice/lemons like you would normally).
    Only problem is – I use so many lemons (daily!) I now have about five years’ supply of preserved lemons.
    Niall

  • http://baking-with-granny.blogspot.com/ Vicki B

    Brilliant! Other citrus would be delicious, too. Freezing lemon’s after juicing works well for future use when lemon rind is needed, but not the juice.

  • http://gillordeincatering.wordpress.com/ Justin Orde

    I’m going to use this in my lemon polenta cakerecipe – brilliant seasoning idea! I normally mellow the lemon flavour with a little orange zest but this may put lemon back centre stage. Thanks for the idea :)

  • Renee Stroup

    Wow- that is brilliant and so easy to do. I love these type of ideas and would love to have a place to go give and receive others “brilliant ideas”- maybe somewhere on your site?????

  • http://kyotofoodie.com Michael [KyotoFoodie]

    Oh, this is great. I am a complete citrus peel fiend but I have never thought of roasting lemon peel. You are clever indeed, roasting the peel while you preheat the oven for something else!

    I want to try this here in Kyoto with yuzu as yuzu peel is the greatest.

    I use Japanese citrus (yuzu, natsumikan, etc) peel in a pretty clever way, I think. I simmer it in soy sauce and allow it to dry for several days then use it to flavor rice dishes. It keeps for a long time.

    I love your site!

  • Joan

    am thinking it would be a lovely surprise gift…sweet jar ‘n waterblue ribbon..scrumptious idea..thanks for this Clotilde..

  • http://www.workingoutwellness.com Rachel @ Working Out Wellness

    Love, love, love this idea. Especially because I have a few lemons sitting in the kitchen now, and I hate wasting any parts of my food.

  • http://averyfoodlydiary.wordpress.com Hannah

    What a brilliant idea! I am so excited about delicious tips that save unnecessary food waste.

    Thanks so much for sharing,

    H :)

  • http://scratch.typepad.com Rachelino

    Thank you for sharing this idea, and for all the ideas in the comments (love the salt idea)! I got a jar of minced, dried lemon peel from Penzeys and never thought to make my own in lieu of tossing/wasting the peel. I think this roasted lemon zest powder would be fabulous in a cheesecake crust as well.

  • http://www.danaslatkin.com/ Dana Slatkin

    Tangerine peels saved in this way add a rich depth to food. It’s used quite a bit in Moroccan dishes, for example.

  • http://www.reciperenovator.com Stephanie W.

    Thank you for this simple and amazing idea! I hate wasting food, even the scraps. Much appreciated!

  • Lisa

    Fantastic idea! For the peeler, I use one that a friend from Germany sent me that is made by Victornix (the same guys that make the Swiss Army knife). It has a serrated blade that is for peeling tomatoes without cooking them. It works wonderfully for stone fruit and citrus as well!

  • http://www.whyamisoboring.blogspot.com Eva

    I usually zest it with my microplane and put it in the freezer. I have a little zip lock back in the freezer of each, lemon, lime, and orange zest.

  • http://www.ravenne.net Kelly

    I make homemade powder laundry detergent, and I wonder if this lemon zest powder would be good to add to it? Do you think it would increase the cleaning power?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m afraid I have no idea!

  • ben

    Hi Clotide,

    I, too, hate to waste any part of the lovely lemon.

    My favorite use for the juiced and zested husks of lemons is to use them to stuff the cavity of a roasted chicken.

    You can store them in your freezer until needed, and it’s quite amazing how many will fit, nested, into a chicken, imbuing it with a lovely lemon flavor when roasted.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for the tip, Ben!

  • http://www.raspberryandchipotle.blogspot.com Tessa

    Thanks for this idea, I have been meaning to try this for ages. I have been drying the peels for a while and have just finished grinding them. They defeated my pestle and mortar ( nit sure why) and even the Thermomix however the Thermomix worked when I added sugar so I now have a jar of very lemony sugar powder and another of a mix of various orange mandarin and clementine with sugar. The kitchen smells amazing. The dog came down to investigate with interest, it set her off on a round of sneezing.

  • adsum-iam

    After I’ve squeezed lemon/orange halves for their juice I often cut them into large pieces and crystallize the peel (i.e. zest plus the white pith) then toss them in caster sugar so they don’t stick together. In theory these are to use chopped up in baking or to add to my Christmas mincemeat recipe. In fact I tend to find myself standing in the pantry eating them direct from the jar – they are just delicious, and a world away from the tough ‘candied peel’ you find in supermarkets. They are also great cut into strips and dipped in bitter chocolate to give as presents (in this case don’t coat them with suger first).

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Very inspiring, thank you!

  • adsum-iam

    Just a postscript to the suggestion above: it’s best to use thick-skinned oranges and lemons when making candied peel, and be sure to include all the white pith (but remove any fibre that remains after you’ve squeezed the fruit for juice). Thin-skinned fruit isn’t as good for candying.

  • Vorece Vanderveer

    I’m 70 and there was only one thing on your site that I will disagree on; simply because my Grandmother did it and I have done it also most of my life.
    You can compost meat and grease to put back into the soil. Bones are the only thing that I know of that I don’t put back into the ground.
    My Grandmother either sprinkled hot pepper powder or powdered mustard on meat and grease to control oder and keep animals out of it.
    If it can be eaten, it can be composted. Until her death at 98, she thought the younger generation was “so” wasteful.
    The rest I throughly enjoyed your site and even learned things that the “younger generation” does to save.

  • Bronwyn

    Similar to your roasted lemon powder is my dried citrus powder. When you make elderflower cordial you end up with very sweet (too sweet to just eat really) slices of citrus fruit with peel that have been soaking in the syrup with elderflowers. I dry the slices in the oven at about 50°C on fan bake until they are crispy, then powder them. Delicious on ice cream or yoghurt.
    I also use my whey for bread, scones etc. It’s not so good in crepes, it makes them so tender that they fall apart if you try to wrap anything in them.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      How intriguing, the flavor must be quite special!

  • Anne McDermott

    I just use a zester to take the zest off and it’s so fine it dries in a few hours on a paper towel. No roasting or grinding. And just as many uses and the powder. No lemon, orange or lime zest has got away in our kitchen for years.

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